Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Diets, Trail Miles, A Winner & A New Goal


You probably thought I'd forgotten about the book giveaway, and you'd be correct. I've been crazy busy & away from my computer most of the time, so  I did forget.  Better late than never though!

Drum Roll.  And the winner of Zen Mind, Zen Horse is....Grey Horse Matters.  Woot!  Woot! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Last week, after my trail ride with Leah, I decided to separate her in a stall and put her on a diet.  I also called my farrier to put on a set of shoes.  (She seemed a bit sensitive over the rocks on the trail.)  I think she has a lost a little weight, judging by her back cinch strap, but it's not a lot.  Leah is definitely an "easy keeper."  My trainer said to give her as much as food as it takes to eat in 30 minutes.  That's a guessing game, but I'm giving it a shot.

The other aspect of getting her fit is riding time.  We had another trail lesson Monday, rode at home today, and should be on the trails Wednesday and Thursday.

So far, I've been really impressed with her level-headedness and lack of fear.  She looks around a lot when we ride through the woods, but she's not panicky--more alert and curious.  She has a great trail pace--she's a fast walker and likes to lead out.  She was having issues following, but my trainer and I practiced together and came up with a way to handle it.  I'd follow the lead horse and when Leah got hot and jiggy, I'd immediately ride her away from the lead horse in a wide circle, slow her down, and then rejoin the lead horse.  After a few times she kept a nice distance.  I could see the back feet of the front horse--which is about perfect.

She is a forward horse--more go than whoa--so my instructor told me to exaggerate the swinging of my hips to slow her down.  For Leah, that worked amazingly well.  I was shocked.

My instructor also worked with me on getting Leah to go over obstacles, like bridges, by picking up and moving her legs with my reins.  Before we'd approach the obstacle, she'd be kind of meandering left to right--which was her trying to avoid the bridge.  I would line her up by putting her feet where I needed them for her to get square and then, when she started to cross, I'd do that back and forth of the bit--left to right--"opening doors" as my instructor calls it.  For Leah, that keeps her straight and slows her down.  I mentioned Buck's "Triangle of Support" last week.  By that, he meant legs, seat, and reins/bit.  The gentle back and forth of the bit reminds Leah that I'm there and it also gives her a job.

I forgot to write about one scary incident that happened on last week's ride.  I was fiddling around in the saddle and somehow knocked my saddle bags off.  They fell loudly to the ground right at Leah's feet.  We were deep in the woods where she had been pretty alert, but she did not freak out one bit at that unexpected scare.  My friend who was riding with me commented that she was a pretty calm horse if she could do so well with that.  I agreed.

Tomorrow, I don't have to work until later in the day, so I'm off to a trail ride.  Leah needs miles & wet blankets at this point.

Which brings me to my next goal from last year--finishing Beautiful Girl's training.  I'm going to talk to my instructor about starting lessons with BG towards the end of this month when Leah is solid.

10 comments:

  1. You are making good progress :0)

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  2. Good experience doing all those trail rides. Sounds like you and Leah are doing well. It's so much more interesting for the horses out in the trails, Eagle gets terribly bored with the ring these days, and so do I. You are very fortunate in that your trainer sounds like she's got lots of good ideas for you to put into practice when an issue comes up. Jessica is really been helpful for me, but I have my conflicts with a lot of her training/riding methods. She is all about "making" the horse do what she wants, and I'm just not into that at all. I want a willing and responsive horse who's as light and sensitive to the aids as possible. Nothing is ever perfect, but we just do the best we can. Have fun on your rides!

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    1. It's a fine line between pushing a horse a little extra to "success" and going too far and "making them". I'm trying to find that balance. Yesterday, I pushed Leah too far in a situation opening and closing a gate. But all I can do is try again today. And, yes, I do think their growth on the trails is exponential compared to the ring. The relationship between us grows by leaps and bounds out in the open.

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  3. The whole leading vs. following thing with horses can be a struggle. Gabbrielle is great at following at a polite distance, but if you put her in front, she gets anxious and panicky. Bombay likes to lead, and if you put him behind a horse, you have to constantly circle him to keep him from sticking his nose in inappropriate places and getting kicked. Rock will lead or follow, but he leads super slow and follows super fast, usually pissing off the other horses. An easygoing horse who can do either and not annoy other horses in the process is worth its weight in gold.

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    1. On our trail ride yesterday (4 riders) we played the "Leap Frog" game. One leads, then peels off and goes to back, next one leads, then peels off to the back, etc. Leah did very well with it, but it was tough to visit and chat. LOL.

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  4. I agree with Nuzz- a horse that can do both is awesome. she's growing into a great horse

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    1. Thanks. The trails have been good for her...and for our relationship.

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  5. I'm so surprised I won! Can't wait to read the book. I'm sure it's packed full of interesting stuff. Thank you so much for having this giveaway!

    Sounds like Leah is becoming a trustworthy trail horse and you'll have any miles of fun with her.

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    1. Yes, part of trust is knowing what she'll do in a tight situation. I'm starting to find that out and that it's very manageable. Getting out on the trails also helps me to know what to work on at my weekly lessons. :)

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.